Brut vs Extra Dry Champagne: Understanding The Differences Like A Pro

brut and dry - featured image

Last Updated on January 12, 2021

As the New Year celebration is fast approaching, I can imagine how most of us think about ending the year with a good bottle of wine. But as you plan for this monumental celebration, you might be having thoughts on going for extra dry vs. brut wine, and you still can’t come up with a decision. 

Then… 

You realized that you couldn’t decide because you are entirely clueless about how one of them varies from the other. If you’re one of those stuck in that kind of decision-making, or even if you’re just plain curious about the difference between brut and extra dry champagne, then you are absolutely on the right page. 

Let’s deep dive into the fascinating world of these two wines. And remember, whether you go for brut or extra dry, a more profound understanding of what makes each of them unique will allow us to enjoy our choices more.

Main Differences Between Brut And Extra Dry

The main differences between Brut and Extra Dry are:

  • Brut is a less sweet version of champagne, whereas Extra Dry has more focused sugar content.
  • Brut is dry on the palate and sour, whereas Extra Dry is not as dry and tastes less acidic.
  • Brut can boost an appetite, so most people usually serve it before meals, whereas Extra Dry is a preferred wine after meals.

All That I Need To Know About Brut Wines

Brut Wine Defined

One of the things that we need to know first and foremost is that Champagne is a place, not a grape.  It is a large area with small towns that produce the same kind of wine. Champagne is a unique region because it is a cold place where most grapes grow.

Brut is a type of sparkling wine and one with the driest, crispest styles out there. It originates from the Champagne region of northern France, which explains why the word itself has a French origin that means “raw.” Brut champagne or dry sparkling wine is the most famous champagne type today.

However, to help clarify some label confusion, it would be best to note that winemakers refer to brut wine as the wine style rather than referring to a particular variety. While most champagnes and sparkling wines have high sweetness levels, a brut wine contains only a small amount of natural sugar, keeping it dry and sharp.

Wine Regions And Their Proprietary Names

Sparkling wines are unquestionably highly valued worldwide. Although champagne is a sparkling wine, only sparkling wines that came from the region of Champagne are what most wine consumers label as a “champagne.”

Some sparkling wines nowadays came from different regions, and to enhance their own identities, each of them has its specific proprietary names. Here are some proprietary names you can take note of:

  • Cava – The sparkling wine that came from Catalonia, Spain
  • Asti – The sparkling wine from Northern Italy
  • Sekt – A popular sparkler in Germany and Austria
  • Prosseco – American sparkling wines from Northern California

In all these regions, they make sparkling wines from regionally native grapes. Those who lack proprietary names use ‘sparkling wines’ as a generic term without reference to a particular quality level or geographic designation. 

For so many years, French wine producers have fought to maintain their proprietary name and keep it geographically delimited. For this reason, it is under European Union Law that wine producers can only label their wines as Champagne if they use grapes that came specifically from that region. 

Brut Wine Production

The winemakers’ traditional way of producing the base wine is similar to making any other wine. After bottling the wines, they go through the second fermentation, where the sparkling wine gets its carbonation.

Depending on the variety, winemakers stop this process before the yeast can finish, leaving residual sugar behind. The difference it makes in crafting dry wines is that the winemakers opt to complete this process.

The winemakers age non-vintage champagne for not less than fifteen months, while the vintage ones for three or more years. There are caves in most champagne houses where they utilize hand or machine rotation in aging their wines.

Characteristics

By this time, we already know that brut is a term we use to refer to a wine’s sweetness level, so in reality, its taste would vary from one wine to another. Although generally, brut wine has this certain sharp and crisp mouthfeel. It is dry but shows a tinge of sweetness.

How To Store Brut Wines

It is imperative to store a brut wine in the same way you would keep other wines, preferably in cool and humid storage conditions. Keeping it cool is essential to minimize the risk of corks shooting off or bottles bursting because they contain wine under pressure.

How To Serve Brut Wines And The Best Glass To Use

Chill the wine horizontally in ice water for 30 minutes or at least three hours in the refrigerator. You may also choose to purchase an ice bucket or get innovative by converting your sink into one.

Contrary to most people’s belief, serving champagne in slender, flute-shaped glasses will hinder you from appreciating the wine’s aroma properly. The best glass type to use for your champagne should have a broader middle with a narrowed-top design. 

This glass type lets you enjoy more of the wine’s fragrance, and its narrow top can keep the wine from being acidic. If you’re drinking Brut straight from the bottle, the best way is to merge it on ice in between sips.

Best Food Matches For Brut Wine

One of the great things about a brut wine is that you can easily pair it with a range of foods that complement its dryness. A brut wine makes an excellent pair with cheese and buttery meals because it can cut through fats like a knife. 

It has the appropriate amount of acidity that helps in balancing fatty or salty meals. Here are some of the other foods that perfectly match your brut wine:

  • Steak
  • White truffle
  • Fried potatoes
  • Fried chicken
  • Ham and Swiss quiche
  • Smoked salmon

All That I Need To Know About Extra Dry Wines

Extra Dry Wine Defined

You refer to a wine as Extra Dry depending on its sweetness level. Despite the presence of the words “extra” and “dry,” the truth is, this wine might seem odd for its name because it is not the driest wine you can find out there. The wines bearing extra dry in their labels are sweeter than brut. For every liter, it approximately has 12 to 17 grams of sugar content.

Here are the six wine categories according to their sweetness level:

  • Extra Brut – This wine is slightly sweeter very dry on the palate.
  • Brut – This is the most famous type of champagne and one that lacks sweetness, slightly sour, and fruity
  • Extra Dry – This wine has a deceptive name because it isn’t dry at all. It is sweeter than brut and perfect for happy hour buffets.
  • Dry – Slightly sweeter than brut, having 17 and 32 grams of sugar residue per liter.
  • Semi-Dry – These wines are on the champagne spectrum’s sweeter end with 32 to 50 grams of sugar for every liter.
  • Doux – The sweetest of all champagnes containing 50 or more grams of sugar per liter.

Wine Regions

Using the Glera grape in Veneto and Friuli’s northeast regions, Italy is famous for Prosecco and Asti. From indigenous red grapes in the northern part of Emilia-Romagna is Lambrusco, Spain also has Cava, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany are famous for its excellent sparkling wines.

Within the bottle, all wines undergo a second fermentation process before the winemakers age them periodically. Regional laws don’t limit Non-European countries, so they have the freedom to use any type of grapes. They also have no restrictions on the length of time they can age their wines.

Characteristics And Best Food Matches

An extra dry wine, as previously mentioned, is not at all “dry.” It is slightly sweet with acidic freshness and a soft, fruity taste, which is why it has a wide range of accompaniment possibilities. Extra dry wines make a perfect match for the following:

  • White meats
  • Delicate dishes
  • Lobster
  • Roast chicken
  • Savory hors d’oeuvres
  • Pasta
  • Fish
  • Fruits and nuts

How To Store And Serve Extra Dry Wines

To say that a wine is a brut or extra dry is dependent on its sweetness level. For this reason, you can store and serve extra dry wine in the same way you would do it for any other wine.

Frequently Asked Questions

champagne toast

Champagne Brut Vs Extra Dry – Which Is The Better Option

Is Extra Dry Sweeter Than Brut?

Yes. Despite its odd name, “Extra Dry,” which leads to most wine consumers’ confusion, this wine sits in the middle of the champagne sweetness scale. Extra dry is indeed sweeter than brut.

Is Brut Or Extra Dry Better For Mimosas?

This question mostly comes up during holidays. Since Christmas and New Year celebrations are just around the corner, Mimosa, for the sake of amateur wine lovers, is a mixture of orange juice and sparkling wine. Although some people nowadays use different types of juices like pomegranate or grapefruit to make a mimosa.

In general, brut wines are best for mimosas. The orange juice already has a lot of sugar content, so opting for brut champagne is an ideal way to strike a balance between the fruit juice of your choice.

What Does Brut Mean?

Brut means dry and with no hint of sweetness. It is the most prevalent sparkling wine you can find in liquor stores.

What Does Extra Dry Mean?

It is one of the six wine categories with residual sugar of only 1% to 2%. Many wines fall under this category; it includes non-sparkling favorites like the Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.

Should I Go For Brut Or Extra Dry?

best foods to go with champagne

Choosing either brut or extra dry can be tricky, but it would help a great deal to base your decision on the following:

  • Do you have a sweet tooth and prefer sweeter wine over dry?
  • What is the occasion, and what food do you plan to prepare for it?

These things are crucial in picking the best wine for you.

Now that you know these wines’ characteristics, it is up to you to discover the one that is most suitable for your taste and your guests. The food pairing method is also another thing to consider, so make sure to choose a wine that will complement the dishes you plan to serve.

Champagne or sparkling wines are crowd favorites for any celebration, so you can also include that during decision-making. Brut is a safe bet for a formal setting, while extra dry sparkling wine will do wonders for a more casual gathering.

Finally, have a price range ready of how much you are willing to spend for your preferred wine. The best brut wines come with a hefty price tag. Try to stay away from making spontaneous purchases. Decide on what you want and make sure that you stick to your plan.

Key Takeaways

It can be overwhelming to understand the world of wines and how each of them differs from another. This article only featured a basic primer on what brut and extra dry wines are, but I hope it gave you valuable insight into differentiating one from the other. 

Doing some research is crucial to ensure that you have the necessary knowledge to make the right choice and the best one for that matter. It might be a daunting, confusing thing to do if you’re wine shopping as a beginner, but it can also be an enriching experience for you.

By the time you finish reading this article, you would no longer be clueless on your next visit to the winery or the liquor store. You already have a more profound comprehension when reading the wine labels, and you would no longer struggle to choose the most suitable wine for the upcoming festivities.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *